So you’ve decided you want to compete. Perhaps it’ll be just one bout, or possibly two. Maybe you’ve even set your sights on the path towards amateur acclaim and beyond? Whatever your ultimate goal, the decision to have your first fight is an easy one. You believe you’re ready to display your skill and compete against an equally skilled opponent. The process of preparation and the fight itself though, is not always smooth sailing.
In part 1 of a 2 part series, I’ll detail out some of the things you can expect as well as some of the rarely mentioned aspects to consider when you’re getting ready for your first bout. I’ll also share a couple of tips that may help you along in your journey.
Prepare to sacrifice your social life
If there’s one thing that prevents most people from ever achieving some of their fitness goals, it’s this. There are only so many hours in a day and you will have to look at your priorities when preparing for a fight. Lets look at the average day for a boxer who hasn’t started making professional money.
- 8 hours sleeping (I’m being optimistic here)
- 9 hours working
- 2 hours travel
- 2 hours eating
- 1 hour misc.
- = 22 / 24 hours
That gives you about 2 hours a day, maybe slightly more, to train. Not everyone has the luxury of flexible hours and an understanding boss. Factor in potential overseas business trips and your available training hours starts to whittle away. That 30 minutes spent at a bar having a quick chat doesn’t sound so short now does it?
Training camps for fights often last 3 months. That’s a quarter of a year and for the sweet science, there is no short cut. The hours put in (hours spent not going through the motions but actually being aware of everything you’re doing and its purpose) will always be reflected during the fight. If you’re committed to winning and being as best prepared as you can for your first fight, then understand that training takes priority over your social life (hopefully you have an understanding spouse). The catch-ups and the chitchat will have to take a backseat. Remember that having just won a fight and retelling your experience always makes for good talking points anyway.
You are not an elite athlete
This is your first bout. Regardless of your athletic background, this being your first bout indicates you are wholly unprepared to train like a fighter who’s had 30 or 40 fights. Even less so if before training camp you were barely even doing a pushup. The human body is resilient and can adapt to volume. BUT there’s only so much that can be done over the course of 12 weeks. Elite athletes have spent years, even decades, building up their body to withstand punishing workouts, 3 times a day, 6 times a week, for months on end. To believe that you can simply jump in at that intensity is unrealistic.
Trust your coach/trainer. Doing too much only hampers your progress. Decide on a volume of training that fits your current level of fitness. Doing sprints, long distance and weight training 3 times a week, each coupled with boxing everyday, looks good on paper but trust me it is a lot harder than it sounds. The body must recuperate and your ability to improve in each subsequent training session depends on your capacity to recover from the previous one.
The learning curve is not linear
There will be days when you just don’t get it. Times when you understand the movement and what is required but just cant seem to fire the right muscles and get the body to do what you want it to do. You will hit the wall, be stuck on a particular boxing drill, punch, or movement that boggles you. You will have to grind, break it down, and most of all, practice. Practice until the body learns to feel the movement. At first it will feel what is wrong, and eventually it will learn to feel what is right. It will seemingly come suddenly. Maybe whilst you’re shadow boxing at home and cooking dinner, or walking along the street, it might happen during a drill, the body learns eventually.
Do not let the frustration get to you. Most of all do not compare yourself to your peers or your role models too often. They will always be a good basis for aspiration and tracking of progress but never get discouraged simply because you’re taking longer to develop or they learnt a technique it faster than you. A skill is only useful if you can use it. Being able to do it never means mastery. Mastery is practice and application over countless hours.
Till next time! – AJ